Jordan Battle isn’t shy about praising his basketball skills.
The Alabama safety is sure he’s the best ball handler and shooter around.
“I can hoop,” Battle said. “I can shoot, I can dribble, I can do everything. If you have anybody who thinks they can beat me one on one send ‘em my way.”
Battle, who is named after basketball legend Michael Jordan and whose father played basketball overseas, played basketball in high school. But he pushed aside basketball after his freshman season and got serious about football. Turns out he's pretty good at it.
Fast-forward a few years and Battle, a junior, is one of the leaders of the Crimson Tide secondary. He’s a two-year starter and earned significant playing time as a freshman. He’s played in every game since his freshman season.
“The main thing I think I’ve elevated is my leadership and knowing the defense inside and out, and just getting everybody on the same page,” Battle said.
He had the best game of his career in Starkville, Mississippi, a few weeks ago. He picked off a Mississippi State pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, and got another one at the end of the game to prevent a Bulldog touchdown. The Bulldogs didn't reach the end zone in that 49-9 win.
He’s serious when he says he’s the best basketball player on the team and nobody on the Crimson Tide can beat him one on one. Except a few – Kool-Aid McKinstry, Terrion Arnold and Bryce Young.
“They are the only competitors,” Battle said. “That’s it.”
It might seem a little boastful to say that, but a defensive back has to have that mindset. There can’t be any doubt about one’s ability to play the position, and play it well.
There are times when Battle has gotten beat by a receiver and there are times when he comes right back and wins those matchups, too.
It’s tricky when playing against a mobile quarterback that can scramble out of the pocket. But he's used to seeing that every day on the practice field with Young at quarterback. Battling wits against Young in practice has yielded positive results in games.
“The main thing is to use your eyes and breaking on the ball when you can,” Battle said. “When you have a quarterback that can scramble you have to keep your eyes on the receivers before you come out of the top because they can look down the field when they are scrambling and make big plays.”
Along with the two picks against Mississippi State, Battle has made some other big plays this season, including a fourth-down stop against Ole Miss near the goal line. He ended with nine tackles against Ole Miss and had seven a week prior against Southern Miss.
Battle, from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, prides himself on his leadership role. He considers himself like a quarterback of the secondary.
“Me and the cornerbacks have the best relationship on the field because I tell them the plays and get them on the right page, making sure the linebackers have the front right and that just makes us a great defense,” Battle said. “Lining up and getting the call quick and echoing it to the defense and just make sure we are on the same page early. When we are on the same page there are less mistakes in the game.”
When it doesn’t go right, however, Battle has to remind his teammates to have a defensive back mentality and look ahead. That’s where his leadership skills come into play.
“We go back to the drawing board and fix everything we have to fix and move on to the next one,” Battle said. “That’s the mentality we always have to have.”
Battle said it’s important for the Crimson Tide to be at the top of their game because it’s guaranteed they will get an opponent’s best effort.
But Battle is fine with that.
“Every week is a chance to play football,” Battle said. “That’s what we love to do. This is SEC football, so it doesn’t get any better than that.”